Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Web of Colour

Colour is wonderful. Colour is magical. If I studied colour for a hundred years I could never hope to get my head around its shifting hues and saturations, its infinite variety, its combinations and its contrasts and its blends.

But the same thing that makes colour so brilliant is what makes it so hard to pin down over cameras and computer screens.

I gave into my Colourmart longings not long after writing this post, and ordered some DK weight silk in ‘peachy powder’. But when it arrived, it was a lot more ‘powder’ and a lot less pink-toned than I was expecting. The photo on the left is the ‘swatch’ photo from the Colourmart website. The photo on the right is the one that I took – it’s not a brilliant shot, but it’s probably the most representative one of the colour that I could get.

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Disappointed, the yarn sat in its bag on my floor for a few days while I decided what to do. Its tones shifted as morning went and evening came. It lay there, shimmering, taunting me. Eventually I decided to send it back, as I knew that there was no point in spending a lot of money on a yarn that I wasn’t in love with.

So a few days ago, thanks in no small part to Colourmart’s superb customer service*, my replacement silk arrived. I’d bought 300g of the ‘peachy powder’ and they only had 200g of leftover ‘peach’ with which to replace it so I threw 100g of cream into the basket too.

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This time I took the yarn out of its bags and took photos against some white printer paper. The photo of the cream is pretty accurate, although the stark white background is bringing out its yellow.

The peach is quite a lot more saturated and quite a bit less pale in real life. It’s an orange-y peach, but holding it up against my face brings out a slightly pinkier hue. It certainly suits me better than the ‘peachy powder’ did, even if I like the colour less ‘on paper’. I want to use it to knit a non-maternity of Petal if I can possibly eek it out of the yardage.

Petal: project photo by Stefanie Japel

 Oh, and as for the cheeky extra Colourmart purchase from the Ravelry destash of a fellow LSG-er… om nom nom nom nom is all I have to say about that!

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*No commission etc.. But I sure wouldn’t say no 😉

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WAK #6: Structured Shrug

I hear it’s summer out there in the rest of the northern hemisphere. It’s hailing outside as I type, but one can but hope that the UK’s weathermen will get the right idea soon.

So looking ahead to the summer which is surely just around the corner*, I have been pondering summer clothing and how to make it look smart. Alex commented on WAK#4 that she’s not that big on wearing sleeveless garments at work, at while I’m sure that there aren’t that many people who are actively offended by a flash of shoulder these days, I do see what she means. It’s all about looking professional.

I have found something of a solution to this in my own work wardrobe. I have a floaty, lightweight, short-sleeved white blouse that I can wear over camis when I’m in the office, buttoned or unbuttoned according to my mood – a rather excellent charity shop find, although I don’t know where it originally came from as the previous owner cut the labels out.

An alternative solution could be a knitted shrug. I really like Short Sleeved Bacall from Rowan 44 magazine. The structure of the collar and the set-in sleeves make it a bit more business-like than your classic slouchy bolero, and it would be a great garment for showcasing a brooch or pin if you were so inclined.

Photo by DutchJacky on Ravelry

The pattern is written for an aran-weight wool, but I would have thought that a DK weight with a bit of maths would work fine, as would a cotton for coolness.

Rowan 44 is now long out-of-print, alas, but all is not lost. I have personal experience of emailing Rowan via their website contact form to see if they had any hidden away back copies of another magazine. Have you seen how much people ask on eBay? I wanted to knit Freya, but not at that price! Anyway, they very kindly sent me a copy of the pattern for free via email. So you too might be lucky if a structured shrug is just what you need for summer.

*Please, oh please?

FO: Vogue Tee (At Last)

Now I know this blog is entitled ‘Sewing Slowly’, but my last project has taken that to new extremes for such a simple garment. I cut out the knit tee from Vogue 1141 at my in-laws’ house over Easter, hoping to have finished it by the end of the holiday, and, well. I’ve just finished it this afternoon*.

Having finally got the damn thing done with, I decided that I’d better take photographs there and then. Jonathan was asleep and our garden had moved into shadow, so please excuse the poor quality.

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I love the pattern and the shape of the tee as much as I did when I first saw it. It’s got pleats at the shoulders and a few small gathers at each side of the bust.

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I shortened Vogue’s binding pieces to about 70% of the relative opening lengths – the knit I was working with doesn’t have fantastic recovery so I wanted to pull things in a bit, as it were, and I personally reckon that you don’t want a knit-binding ratio to be anything over 80% anyway. I topstitched the bindings because I couldn’t be bothered to stitch in the ditch – particularly after having discovered that I’d ended up with a few drag lines so this was only ever going to be a casual top anyway.

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The fabric is more purple-y in real life than the photos suggest. Unfortunately it also leaked a lot of dye on prewashing and wasn’t particularly stable to sew up. I should know by now not to buy crap fabric because of its colour/print, but somehow I always get drawn in….

Totally two thumbs up for the pattern though. I can definitely see myself making it again, and am very glad I bought it when I did because it’s now OOP.

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*In fairness, my back did relapse in the middle of that time period, meaning that for about a fortnight even sitting was painful, never mind sewing. And I’ve been busy. So crazily, surprisingly busy!

WAK #5: Worsted Gables

You know there are those patterns that are everywhere on Ravelry? Everywhere you look somebody’s knitting a Color Affection or a Holden Shawlette – and that’s before you start on the stuff in Knitty! There are the patterns that deserve way more attention than their mere handful of projects belies. And then there are the patterns that just seem to be quietly successful.

Green Gable was published at the start of January 2013, according to its Ravelry page, and it’s already garnered well over 1000 projects.

Photo by knitlulu on Ravelry

Quite frankly, I can see why. It’s a classic shape, with plenty of fitting opportunities. The raglan seams are nicely shaped and the lace provides interest without overwhelming. It’s worsted, so it’ll knit up quickly, and top-down and seamless. In worsted weight I’d wear it as a jumper, but you could probably knit it in DK for a top.

I’d only have one concern if I were making this for workwear, and it isn’t bra strap coverage – multiple project photos suggest that this isn’t an issue. No, I’d just change the long sleeves a bit to be less exaggeratingly bell-like. But other than that, I can definitely see this pattern making its way into my queue as a quick project before too long.

Don’t forget that if there’s a pattern you’d like to featured in the work-appropriate knitwear series, you can email me at sewingslowly [at] gm ail [dot] com

UFO Corner #1

Jonathan is out for the evening and I’ve been trying to have a bit of a sort-out. (I was hoping to actually get some crafting of some sort done, but my energy and general enthusiasm levels have put paid to that plan).

The upstairs front room which contains both of our desks and my crafting stuff is the one room that still hasn’t really ‘made it’ since we moved in in November. There is still a long way to go, but tonight’s contribution to taming the mêlée has been to 1) tidy my pens and pencils out of assorted grubby plastic pots and into the lovely wooden desk tidy that Jonathan got me for my birthday:

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, 2) pile up the mess under my folding table into a slightly more contained pile of fabrics and bags, and 3) venture into the sewing bits-and-bobs box that I threw together at the last moment before moving.

And out of this box came the first UFO for the ‘UFO Corner’ series that I threatened myself with sometime back.

Pattern: McCalls 4455, version E (bottom-left below)

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UFO since: Spring 2010? Oh geez.

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See all that puffing and rumpling? Now part of that is to do with the fact that this top has been shoved into a corner/ bag/ box for the vast majority of its three year lifespan. I have to be honest though. Part of it is to do with major user error.

The fabric is a beautiful creamy sheer silk that I bought for a steal in the closing down sale of the wonderful Giesse Scampoli (sob). It’s lined and underlined with white cotton for body and topstitched with white topstitching thread.

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A more experienced sewist than myself at the time would have carefully smoothed, weighted and hand-basted the silk to the underlining on every single piece before even thinking about sewing a seam. Um, yeah. Also, see that mess at the right shoulder? The silk shifted and disintegrated before it could be sewn under in the relatively narrow shoulder seam. I think that’s the point when I pushed it away in exasperation.

Rescue possibility: I hate to admit it but… no. I’m sad about the wasted silk, but there is no way that this is rescuable to my satisfaction. Plus it was a close fit at the time of making, and I’ve put on weight since. I’d like to try then pattern again at some point, though.

A Word On Yarn Overs

This post is mostly aimed at new(er) knitters (than I). I have no intention of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs.

When I was first looking at the instructions for JSSBO, it took me a while for me to wrap my head around it. I kept repeating her knit stitch instruction to myself: “wrap the [yarn the] opposite direction around the needle from the standard yarnover”.

What?

And then when I was looking for information on yarn-overs in another context (more on which another time), it suddenly clicked into place. There are two different types of yarn-over.

Let’s go back to what a yarn-over is trying to achieve. See this diagram of stockinette (cribbed from www.craftyarncouncil.com)? Ignore what the needles are doing. The bits I’ve filled in in blue are a small continuous section of yarn as it came off the ball. You can see that there is a short horizontal bar between the loops of yarn that form stitches over the needle. The idea of a yarn-over is to create a new stitch out of that bar by lifting it over the needle itself, in between the current stitches.

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One way to achieve this is to do what I have always done, which is to just bring the yarn between the two needles to the ‘opposite’ side of the work when you reach the place that you want the new stitch. So, bring the yarn through the needles to the front if the next stitch is a knit stitch or bring the yarn through the needles to the back if the next stitch is a purl stitch. If you’re switching between knitting and purling on the same row, then you may just be able to leave the yarn on the opposite side of the work.

This works because when you come to knit (or purl) the next stitch, the yarn has to find its way back to the correct side of the work, so it travels over the needle as you are forming the stitch.

You’ll appreciate that when using this method, Jeny’s instruction doesn’t make much sense.

So what I found is that there’s another technique called a ‘yarn-over’. Instead of letting the yarn travel back over the needle itself, you actively take it there: bring the yarn forward through the needles, but then loop it back over the needle before forming your knit stitch. On the purl side, it would seem that you perform the wrap first (taking your yarn over the needle to the back) but then bring it forward through the needles.

Either method has the same result: forming a new stitch from that horizontal bar. But the method where you actively wrap the yarn over means that you have a looser tension on the next stitch because the knitting doesn’t have to ‘correct’ itself, I presume resulting in a slightly bigger hole.

Clever, eh? I would imagine that one’s considered American and one British or something. It certainly makes sense of the distinction between ‘yarn over’ and ‘yarn forward’. The method that I’ve been using seems to have worked fine for me so far and I’ve no particular intention of fixing what’s not broken – but I do like being able to understand my knitting like this, and understand why certain techniques produce certain results.

WAK #4: A Gathered Cami

Quick post today. Things to do, worksheets to write, people to see.

Alexandra Virgiel’s Ballet Camisole is one of the first patterns that I favourited on Ravelry. Unlike many of those early favourites (before I started to view things with more of a knitter’s eye), I still love it.

It’s a simple style with a girly twist. The front gathers are optional – you can just knit it as a scoop neck. I like the fact that although it’s a sleeveless cami, it still has that bit of shaping to lift it, and the straps are wide enough to provide plenty of bra coverage. (I have a colleague whose bra straps are constantly falling out, and it’s really not a good look for work).

Photo by ayumuinblue on Ravelry

Again this is something that I can see working well under a suit jacket. The pattern is written for sport-weight yarn, but I have some silk/linen fingering weight reserved in my name from a Ravelry destash that I’m hoping would work just beautifully.

Oh, and best of all? It’s freeee!